Hey, guys! I apologise for my absence over the weekend – I was in Penang to take part in the Penang Bridge International Marathon. It was my first time joining a ‘marathon’ (even though it was only the 7km), but it was definitely an exhilarating experience. Now I know why the running movement has gained so much popularity all over the world lately. More on that later though!
We set off from KL in the morning and stopped by Ipoh for lunch at a famous Hakka Mee stall in Paris Restaurant, along Jalan Sultan Iskandar (formerly Hugh Low Street). In a bid to boost nationalism, all the pre-independence English street names were changed to local Malay names, but that doesn’t stop the older generation and most of the locals (like my parents) from referring to them by their original names.
Paris Restaurant is located at a busy intersection. Like most Chinese kopitiams(coffee shops) in Malaysia, it is packed to the brim with round plastic tables and chairs, and has a central stall selling noodles while the back kitchen does the drinks. We immediately ordered a few bowls of Hakka Mee – springy yellow noodles tossed in lard, and topped with a dark minced pork sweet and savoury sauce.
The soy sauce and lard makes for a smooth, silky texture as the noodles slip down the throat. Some local versions also differ according to region and the Hakka community in each state – some, for example, make do with a light-coloured minced pork and even have boiled vegetables served on top, and others have charsiu(barbecued meat) and fish cake slices.
The one in Ipoh has a touch of the town’s flavour, as it comes served with yong liu or yong tau foo (also a Hakka specialty!), various snacks of meat and fish paste in tofu.
The dish is a specialty of the Hakka people – a Chinese clan (currently numbering about 80mil worldwide) originating from the Guangdong, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Sichuan, Hunan and Fujian provinces. In Malaysia, Hakka people are the second largest subethnic group (making up 20% of the 7 mil ethnic Chinese here), so their influences in the local cuisine are prevalent.
After Googling for ‘Hakka noodles’, I noticed that the versions in the West differ from what we have here, so I don’t know if it’s a Malaysian-Hakka exclusive dish.
The noodles were decent, but the real winner (in my opinion) was the deliciously juicy pork balls. Generous in portions and springy to the bite, munching on them were quite addictive. Perfect snack to go along with the noodles.
The shop is run by three brothers and was handed down by their grandfather. The brothers are all pretty old themselves, so this shop has a legacy dating back more than 50 years.
For small eaters, opt for the mini portions at only RM2.60. The one half mee was already sufficient for me, but if you’re a Hakka mee addict, go for the bigger Double Mee at RM4 (Still cheaper than KL!)
After our filling meal, we hopped into the car again for another two hour-drive to Penang. Headed straight to the base of Penang bridge 2, where they had the race pack collection counters open throughout the day. It was jam packed with a sea of humans and the wait took close to an hour because somehow, the line that we ended up queueing up in was super slow. I saw runners from all over the world, including a few African runners who looked like they were built for the Olympic triathlons .__. Mum, bro, aunt and I joined the shortest ‘Fun Run’ category of 7km, while my cousin did the full 42km race which started at 1.30am.
The collection took longer than expected, and the hotel where we stayed in – Bayview Hotel – was fully booked. Apparently it was the same at most hotels on Penang island, and the staff had their hands full cleaning out rooms and checking people in. The room was only available at 3pm, and we were starving by then.
Had lunch at a random shop nearby,(forgot what it’s called, but it was opposite a KFC)which served belacan chicken rice – deep fried chicken with rice topped with a fluffy fried egg and belacan sauce (spicy chilli sauce) that tasted very much like Indian fish curry. It was the best meal I had that day since I was starving lol. It’s true what they say about food tasting better when you’re hungry.
Stay tuned for my next post on the marathon!